You have the perfect idea for your new blog or website, and you’re finally ready to get started with it.
But you’re stuck wondering: Should I build it with WordPress.com or WordPress.org?
The decision between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org might not seem like a super important one. After all, they’re both on WordPress, right?
But on the contrary, they are actually quite different. And so, this decision could have the biggest impact on the future (and potential) of your blog or website.
But many people either don’t put much thought into the decision, or simply don’t think it’s that big of a deal.
However, this decision between WordPress.com and WordPress.org is one you should research carefully before moving forward, and it’s a decision that I want to help you make today.
(If you make the wrong choice, you could end up with some big regrets and difficult challenges down the line…)
To start, there are some big differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. For example, WordPress.com comes with more limitations than WordPress.org. And so, for some bloggers, WordPress.com is a better fit, while for others, WordPress.org is the one they should go with.
I’ll compare them in a second, and help you understand why you should choose one or the other.
But first, here’s a quick reminder why WordPress in general is the best platform for building a new site:
- It’s free! It doesn’t cost anything to download or install, and there are plenty of free themes and templates to help you build your site.
- It’s very beginner-friendly. If you can write on Microsoft Word, you’ll have no problem creating blog posts and other content on WordPress. And you can use free plugins to add tons of functionality to your site that would otherwise be difficult to create yourself.
- It’s great for both small and large sites. WordPress can handle any type of site. CNN, eBay, Google Ventures, and even NASA are on the WordPress platform.
- There’s a huge support and developer community available to help. Because so many people use the platform, it’s easy to find quick help when you need it.
- Your site will be responsive. Your site will look great on both mobile and desktop devices, which is crucial, as a good portion of your traffic will come from mobile.
Okay, now that you have that quick reminder, let’s get back to the main question on your mind…
WordPress.com or WordPress.org?
Let’s dive into the comparison so you know exactly which one to choose…
3 Important Differences
1. WordPress.com is FREE, WordPress.org is ~$5/mo
WordPress is completely free (both the WordPress.com and WordPress.org version), but there are still some costs involved.
First, let’s look on the costs for WordPress.org…
WordPress.org is simply the platform you’ll use to build your site. But you’ll need other tools and pieces to make it complete.
Here are the other two main costs involved:
- Hosting. Web hosting is one of the most important factors in how your site performs online, so you shouldn’t overlook it. Hosting is usually around $3 per month, but this won’t break the bank, especially if you plan to make money off of your website. To help you choose your hosting, check out my list of the 10 best hosts for WordPress.org sites.
- Domain name. Your domain name is your first impression. It also affects SEO and defines your brand, so it’s important that you choose the right name. Your domain name will typically cost you around $10 – $15 per year. Again, pocket change if you plan to make money from your website.
Now let’s look at the costs involved with WordPress.com.
Sure, it’s free… that is, if you want your site to end up on a subdomain like YourWebsite.WordPress.com or YourBlog.WordPress.com.
But that’s a bit unprofessional, and I’m guessing you want something more personal and unique.
Instead, you can opt to upgrade to a premium WordPress.com account, where you can set up your own domain and get hosting.
However, if you do decide you want to upgrade your WordPress.com account, you’ll get the similar freedoms as you will with WordPress.org (more on this in a minute), but you’ll end up paying $25/month (considerably more than you’d pay if you set up your own hosting and domain name through WordPress.org).
2. WordPress.com is limited, WordPress.org is flexible
With WordPress.org, the sky is the limit. You’ll have no limitations, meaning you can install/download unlimited plugins and themes (both free and paid). You can also hire web developers to tweak your website to another level (which you can’t do with WordPress.com version).
Depending on your web hosting, there are no storage/bandwidth limits (at least Bluehost doesn’t have any).
What’s more, you can customize your website as much as you want, and make it completely your own. For example, aside from uploading custom themes and plugins, you can modify anything you want on your site. With this freedom, your website has the potential to reach much higher heights than it ever could on if it was with WordPress.com.
You can also run your own ads without having to share the profits with anyone, as well as build an online store, get custom analytics, and even create your own membership site.
In short, if you want to get the most out of your blog/website, and if you want there to be no limit to its potential, it’s wise to go with WordPress.org.
With WordPress.com you’ll have some limitations, meaning the FREE version has only a handful of free plugins and themes to choose from. There’s also a limit of storage space (3GB).
If you want to remove these limitations and have similar freedoms as with WordPress.org + web hosting , you’ll have to upgrade like I mentioned before. But again, $25/month is a pretty steep price for what you can get for less than $5/mo on Bluehost or any other similar WordPress web hosting provider.
If you don’t mind these limitations, you’ll still be hit with some other downsides with the free WordPress.com platform. For example:
- You can’t upload custom themes.
- You won’t get the in-depth tracking of Google Analytics…only the limited WordPress stats tracking.
- WordPress.com places ads on all free websites, and you won’t make a dime from these ads. But they’ll still hurt your user’s experience on your site!
- Your site can be deleted at any time if WordPress.com thinks it violates their terms of service (more on this in #3).
3. Content Copyright Issue on WordPress.com
Not many people talk about it, but if you opt-in for WordPress.com free version, the moderators can easily delete your blog without any warning, meaning all your hours of writing could be wiped out within seconds.
Sounds unrealistic? Think again:
- WordPress deleted my blog without any warning (Matadoru.com)
- WordPress deleted all of my blogs (WarriorForum.com)
- My blog has been deleted? (WordPress.com)
Why on earth would WordPress.com delete your blog? There are many reasons actually, but most likely they’ve found that your content violates their Terms of Service.
Can you restore your content? Likely not.
So, if you want to have full control of your content (and prevent it from getting deleted at a moment’s notice), you should think twice before choosing WordPress.com vs WordPress.org…
You won’t face this issue if you run a self-hosted site on the WordPress.org version (that is, unless you uploaded something that is against the law. In that case, your web hosting has the opportunity to disable your blog, which you can later restore).
In other words, you’ll have complete control of your content.
So, WordPress.com or WordPress.org?
If you want to turn your blog or website into a profitable business, it’s clear which option is the best for you.
But I’ll break it down for you:
Go with FREE WordPress.com, if you:
- Plan to open a blog for some short term event (giving a birth, getting married)
- Plan to just write for yourself (goal is not making money or getting it popular)
- Don’t plan to open a business website, personal website or online store
- Don’t have $5/mo to spend on your blog
Still, I’d caution you here. Because at some point, you might want to turn that hobby blog (or personal blog) into something that generates revenue.
It might be hard to predict this at the beginning, but it’s better to take a long-term view of the situation. That way, if you do ever decide to turn your website into a revenue-generating business, you have the pieces in place to easily do so.
Go with WordPress.org, if you:
- Plan to open a serious blog (your goal is to make money)
- Plan to open a business website or online store
- Plan to blog more than 6 months
- Have $5/mo to spend on your blog (hosting and domain name)
Perhaps you aren’t even planning specifically for any one of these things, but you’ve considered starting an online store or a serious blog in the past…
Well, if that’s the case, you should still go with WordPress.org. Again, this will make it easier to transform your blog to an online store/profitable business in the future.
“Can I Move From WordPress.com to WordPress.org?”
So if you already have your site on WordPress.com, this question may be popping into your mind right now.
Yes, you can can switch over, but you have to follow the right process to make sure the switch goes smoothly. This is a process we’ll outline in-depth in a future post, but for now, here are the basic steps:
- Purchase web hosting (Here is how to sign up with Bluehost hosting)
- Install WordPress
- Import your WordPress.com website into the new host (you can do so with the WordPress importer plugin)
- Redirect visitors to your new website location with a 301 redirect
- Install the jetpack plugin to migrate any subscribers you had from the old site
As you’ve seen, the debate between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org is an easy one to solve.
WordPress.org is typically the best choice, and will allow you to maximize the potential of your website. However, if you simply want to build a small blog and not take it seriously (and have no plans to take it seriously in the future), then WordPress.com could be the choice for you.
Have you built a website with WordPress.com or WordPress.org? How do you feel the two compare to each other? Is there anything you’d add? Let me know in the comments below!